Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE:APC) recently reported an overall strong third-quarter, driven by solid oil production growth and higher realized hydrocarbon prices during the period. Net income jumped 50% year-over-year to $182 million, up from $121 million in the year-earlier quarter, while revenues rose 16% to $3.85 billion.
Yet shares of Anadarko fell by nearly 3% following the announcement of third-quarter results, as earnings missed analyst expectations and the share of gas production came in higher than expected.
However, I believe the company's future prospects for growth remain extremely strong, owing to its large portfolio of highly economical U.S. onshore assets and a handful of mega-projects around the world. Let's take a closer look at some of the company's key U.S. onshore assets that should drive growth going forward.
The Wattenberg and the Eagle Ford
Over the past three years, Anadarko has done a really commendable job in boosting production from its U.S. onshore assets. Since 2010, the company has grown U.S. onshore sales volumes by 190,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, while simultaneously reducing operating costs by 13%. It is currently one of the lowest-cost operators in the U.S., with a per-unit operating cost of just over $3 per barrel of oil equivalent.
Two plays deserve special mention in driving Anadarko's U.S. onshore liquids growth: the Wattenberg, where Anadarko commands roughly 350,000 net acres in the core of the play, and the Eagle Ford, where it has roughly 200,000 net acres. In the Wattenberg, the company more than doubled its sales volume from 26,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day to 56,500 BOE per day during the third quarter, while Eagle Ford production surged 35% year-over-year.
Importantly, both plays feature relatively low development costs of roughly $13 per barrel of oil equivalent, and relatively high EURs -- roughly 350 MBOE per well in the Wattenberg and 600 MBOE per well in the Eagle Ford. The company also has a deep inventory of drilling locations left in both plays, with roughly 4,000 horizontal drill sites remaining in the Wattenberg and more than 2,500 drilling locations in the Eagle Ford.
Anadarko should also be able to unlock additional value from the Wattenberg thanks to an acreage swap with Noble Energy (NYSE:NBL), whereby the two companies will exchange 50,000 net acres in different parts of the play. The company reckons this transaction should boost its Wattenberg production by roughly 8,000 barrels per day, since it will provide a more concentrated core acreage position that is better complemented by Anadarko's existing infrastructure in the play.
In addition to these established, relatively low-risk plays, Anadarko is also expanding its presence in the Permian-Delaware basin, where it is targeting the emerging Wolfcamp shale, a play for which the industry has incredibly high hopes. Pioneer Natural Resources (NYSE:PXD), which commands roughly 730,000 net acres in the Spraberry/Wolfcamp formation and is currently the largest acreage holder in the play, reckons the play could become the largest oil and gas discovery in the world, based on its extensive analysis and successful recent results in the play.
During the third quarter, Anadarko evaluated six wells in the Wolfcamp, which yielded gross processed IP rates in the range of 1000 to 1600 BOE per day, of which 70% was oil. It currently has six rigs up and running in the play, up from zero last year, and continues to evaluate the resource potential of its acreage. Given these successful initial results and the high degree of industry optimism surrounding the Wolfcamp, investors should keep an eye on Anadarko's progress in this emerging play.
The bottom line
Going forward, Anadarko's sizable acreage position in some of the above-mentioned U.S. onshore plays should continue to drive growth, especially given these plays' attractive cost structures and favorable balance between gas and liquids. Not surprisingly, the company plans to allocate roughly 60% of its expected capital budget of $7.2-$7.6 billion toward U.S. onshore plays.
In addition to a solid foothold in the U.S., the company continues to ramp up activity at its three megaprojects in Ghana, Algeria, and the Gulf of Mexico. Assuming these projects can stay at or near full capacity in the years to come, they should provide another massive boost to the company's overall production growth, provided geopolitical risk, especially in Algeria, remains subdued.